Department: Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine School: New York College of Osteopathic Medicine Campus: Old Westbury
Member of NYIT Since: 2006
When Sheldon Yao (D.O. '02) witnessed the impact of osteopathic manipulation treatment (OMT) for the first time, he was an undergraduate student at Binghamton University on the verge of a life-changing experience. He was shadowing an osteopathic doctor at Wilson Memorial Hospital in Binghamton, N.Y., when a woman with injuries from a car accident, including a neck collar, hobbled into an examination room. The doctor spent 30 minutes treating her with OMT, after which Yao recalls her hopping off the examination table and striding-with no trace of a limp-out of the room.
"It was amazing to me that the doctor was able to have such an immediate effect treating her," he says.
Five years later, Yao graduated from the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYCOM) of NYIT and worked as a family care doctor-a long-held career aspiration-before returning to teach as an assistant professor of osteopathic manipulative medicine.
"I took both passions and blended them together," he says. "I had great teachers at NYCOM and that was one of the reasons I came back to the school."
Yao, who is researching the impact of OMT on people with asthma, recently collaborated with other faculty members and students on a study correlating OMT techniques-rib raising, occipitoatlantal release, and thoracic pump-to alleviating stress in 25 second-year NYIT students about to take their board exams.
The study, "Impact of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment on Secretory Immunoglobulin A Levels in a Stressed Population," was featured on the cover of the March 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. The researchers tracked an antibody found in saliva to measure immune system activity. High levels indicate a well-functioning immune system. Half of the group received the three aforementioned OMT methods, while the remaining study participants had none.
"The study results showed that when we did these osteopathic manipulative techniques, they helped to improve the immune system," says Yao, who believes patients with cystic fibrosis and upper respiratory tract infections could benefit from the research. "This was only a small pilot study … we're looking for and applying for funding now to shift to a bigger group of people or hospital setting."
As more researchers move toward an evidence-based approach, Yao sees positive exposure for osteopathic medicine and a growing demand for well-trained physicians in the field-two areas he hopes to nourish through his teaching.
"I'm very lucky and proud of the department I work in," Yao says. "We're always trying to further the understanding and science of osteopathic medicine to the best of our ability."